I learned a very important lesson today, which I would like to share on this Erev Yom Kippur.
Thursday, I received a copy of the Machzor Massoret HaRav. This morning, I finally had a chance to really sit with it. I started with the introduction, to see what the editors' conscious and stated motives were in producing the work. (Though I am very wary of falling victim to the Intentionalist Fallacy.) All of a sudden, my heart sank. My beloved teacher, Rabbi Dr. Isaiah Wohlgemuth is listed there as 'zl.' Now, I knew he'd been ill, but I could not believe that the Boston grapevine would have missed his passing.
After Shabbat, I checked the SSDI, but found nothing. I checked the Obituary Data bases, nothing. I finally wrote to some local landsleit to see if they'd heard anything. Both told me that Rabbi Wohlgemuth is in an old age home in New Jersey and still very much alive, though ailing.
I assume that this was an honest mistake. Nevertheless, I am still very shaken. What would it have required to check and see if someone is still with us before going to press?
Before pronouncing someone 'z'l' it behooves a writer to check his facts first.